Protect the Academic Freedom of Professor Carol Swain
Over 10,000 students, alumni, professors, and citizens are petitioning for Vanderbilt University to protect the academic freedom of Professor Carol Swain.
We ask that Vanderbilt University releases a statement that clearly defends Professor Carol Swain's First Amendment rights.
We ask that Vanderbilt University condemns the lies that have been circulating online about Professor Carol Swain.
We live in a pluralistic, and democratic society -- this means that as a free society, we need to welcome and entertain even unpopular ideas in the public square, rather than going bonkers whenever someone expresses them.
There is an online student petition demanding the suspension of Professor of Law and Political Science Carol Swain for being “hateful” toward minorities, "unprofessional intimidation on social media", and performing "discriminatory practices in the classroom." These claims are ungrounded; they are lies. Those adcvancing these lies forget, or willfully ignore, that Professor Swain has testified a number of times before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt wrote in The Atlantic an article titled, “The Coddling of the American Mind.” In this article, Lukianoff and Haidt define vindictive protectiveness as the creation of a “Culture in which everyone must think twice before speaking up, lest they face charges of insensitivity, aggression, or worse.” In this new university climate, students not only refuse to engage uncomfortable ideas, and refuse that others get a platform to express them, but go further and demand that disciplinary actions follow suit to those who violate the safe space that a university is supposed to be as seen in what has been happening at Yale University and the University of Missouri.
Who would have ever thought that a university owed students a “safe place,” a place where students are shielded and coddled from positions, expressions, ideas, and/or actions that challenge them, present different perspectives, or from others who exercise their First Amendment rights? This new climate in the university replaces the importance of talking about issues with feelings. Emotional reasoning monopolizes the university’s debates and discussions. Lukianoff and Haidt define emotional reasoning in their article as “Assuming that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: ‘I feel it, therefore it must be true.’” Emotional well-being is rapidly trumping the exercise of the First Amendment.
We must stand up for the voices like the one of Professor Carol Swain. We cannot let hypersensitive students succeed in trumping her First Amendment rights. #StandWithSwain